What to do when you find out your favorite musician is
Racist and/or
Sexist and/or
Homophobic and/or
Transphobic and/or
COVID-denying and/or
A general piece of garbage…

You know that band/musician you loved growing up? The one that speaks to you at any age. The one you’ve seen in concert 10+ times? You’ve gone to festivals for them, you’ve had their posters since you were 8, their music got you through the good AND bad times – including moving to a new city as a kid. You requested a song of theirs and dedicated it to your twin sister at your wedding reception…

If you can’t tell, I have a band that fits this bill. And last week, it came to my attention that at least two of their members have revealed themselves as garbage.

And, I’m not kidding when I say that I have supported them, purchased their music and trivia books and even had lunch with them in high school. #BigFan

But, as of last week, that is no more. And, on top of that, I felt a strong urge to take a few more steps. So, if you are devastated and angry at a revelation that a musician that has had a strong impact in your life up to this point is actually COVID-denier – and more – and you aren’t sure what to do with that rage? How do you reconcile with the fact that you supported that trash for so long? Here’s what I’m doing:

  1. Sit with the fact that you wish they wouldn’t have said anything at all. It’s there. It’s real. AND it’s a red flag of privilege – that ignorance-is-bliss mentality COULD be easier at times, but isn’t something that many humans can afford, nor is it something to seek out. Easier does NOT equal better – at least in this case. Their saying something out loud may feel like a curse. It’s really a blessing. Because, once you know better, you do better, right?
  2. In your mind/journal, thank them for everything they brought/were to you/did for you in the before times. Maybe vent into a voice message. Scream into a pillow. All good things must come to an end. Now, get to work.
  3. Cut ‘em off. All social media follows and purchases. 
  4. Call ‘em out. It’s not enough just to unfollow. Let people know the type of folks they are supporting/following. And, if all you can think with this step is, “WOW, another person promoting cancel culture and trying to silence someone”…read up on what cancel culture really is/means (and, this Times article is from 2019…still very much stands)
  5. Stop streaming. Even though it’s just pennies per stream – they are benefitting monetarily from you still tuning into their music.
  6. Count up how much money you’ve paid them over the years – posters, albums, concert tickets, merch, etc. – and demand they pay that in donations/reparations. Not sure what reparations are? Nicole Cardoza of Anti-Racism Daily (subscribe to the daily newsletter AND support their work monetarily), shared the following in the February 1, 2021 version of the newsletter:

    “Reparations are necessary for achieving racial equity (Brookings). On an individual level, pay it forward to creators you learn from on social media or organizers in your community. On a local level, find the local or state initiative advocating for reparations and support for their work. In addition, I recommend completing the Reparations Now Tool Kit created by the Movement for Black Lives to create a comprehensive plan.” 
  7. That last ask feel like a bit of a stretch? That’s OK. If you have the means, pay those reparations/donations yourself. Installments are fine. Refer to my last point in where to contribute, if you can’t think of anything. (For example: I am contributing to KC Tenants – a multiracial group in my hometown that organizes to ensure everyone has a safe, accessible, and affordable home. I also contribute to Gift KC on a monthly recurring basis).
  8. Feel like there is a hole in your heart where that music lived? Find some new music – you are in the right place to find independent artists here at imperfect Fifth), and accept that this – like many things and all of 2020 – is a grieving process. You won’t “just get over it”. 

Just know that not taking action shows lack of care, and even – dare I say it – complicity?

The world won’t change unless we each take steps – individually and collectively – towards the world we want.

wondering what former favorite band of mine I might be referring to? Hanson. It’s Hanson (find out what led me to this action and rant, here and here). ALSO? Brian Littrell. Fuck em.

Erin P.S. Zimmerman
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